Perhaps following trends on the Continent, between 1774 and 1776 Rowley & Co. of London endeavoured to reform the traditional court cards in English playing cards with portraits of the kings and queens of England, France, Spain and Russia with their attendants as Knaves, and with the customary suit symbols changed to spearheads, chalices, trefoils, and topaz, coloured black, red, green and orange. Additional allegorical imagery on the Aces suggests the four classes of men into which every kingdom is divided: the Nobles, the Clergy, the Citizens and the Peasantry.
The Ace of Spades on English playing cards usually carried the maker's name, but did not carry the treasury duty until 1765. After this it also had a die number. In this example of Rowley & Co's pack the Ace of Spades is nameless and with no duty or die number, which is unusual. One explanation is that early editions may have had a nameless Ace of Spades; or it may have been a proof submitted to the Stamp Office for the real Ace to be made. Alternatively it may have been an attempt to evade paying the official duty. The rest of the pack appears to be perfectly legitimate.
The designs are entirely new, the joint endeavour of several respectable artists, studious to please, and emulous to outvie everything of this kind which has appeared before. Upon the whole, they are submitted to the public as a pack of cards, in which the antiquated and grotesque are rejected, the misnomers explained and removed, and much of the original meaning of the inventor revived...
Below is a typescript of an advertisement for Rowley's cards which contains a rationale for the design of the pack:
Member since February 01, 1996View Articles
Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.
Kings and Queens of Portugal between 1185 - 1279. by V. de J.J. Nunes , Lisbon, Portugal, 1977.
Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.
Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.
54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.
Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.
Elegant, elongated cards designed by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.
Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.
Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.
Another pack of Dutch costume playing cards c.1880.
Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.
Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.
“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.
Hall & Son
Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.
Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.
Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.
Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.
PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History
Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith
We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).
The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts
Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.
Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.
The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.
Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11
Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.
Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.
Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.
Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.
The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.
The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.
Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.
Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.
French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s